The recent events surrounding the abrupt closure of the Greek state broadcaster ERT and the subsequent departure of the minor partner (DIMAR) from the government is part of a liquidation process of the political scenery, the financial crisis is forcing through in an ever accelerating mode.
The culmination of this process will be the total rebalancing of the political forces present in Greek and European bourgeois democracy on the basis of the reinvention of petty bourgeois reformism and its ability to reestablish a legitimate to the eyes of the working class, petty bourgeois alliance. In short petty bourgeois social democracy at the precise necessary moment will spring from the ashes of the current neo-liberal onslaught, rebranded and installed with a new reformist vision, to provide the minimum concessions, at a time when the European working class will become more demanding and politically conscious. It is only at that point the working class can advance its class awareness as reformism is combated daily and exposed for its petty bourgeois nature. It is only then that the working class can break from such petty bourgeois alliances and by doing so push forward the question of abolition of the bourgeois state.
Three birds with one stone
As mentioned in the article ‘Greece – The quest for workers’ party’,
“Soon the leaderships of PASOK and DIMAR will start feeling uncertain about the forthcoming of this reward, realizing they are up to win less and loose more. They will clumsily try to disassociate themselves at any opportune moment and try to reemerge as the only possible proposition of petty bourgeois reformism.”
The first act of such clumsiness took place with the sudden departure of DIMAR from the government as a reaction to the immediate closure of ERT. It was simply the end of DIMAR’s usefulness as a political entity, in relation to the needs of Greek bourgeois democracy. What its leaders thought they could gain politically with their role as political stabilizers and another small buffer, bourgeois democracy and consequently capital can use when showing its most undemocratic and relentless face, had soon transformed into a mirage, as they witnessed their party slowly being consumed by the neoliberal onslaught. Unsure of their future anymore, of their role in bourgeois democracy or of their strength inside and outside parliament the leadership moved swiftly to evoke and speak of values of democratic nature when they have collaborated in every undemocratic action the neoliberal head of the coalition pursued. What will follow is the abandonment of the ship , as all the careerists who found temporary political refuge within DIMAR’s walls, after abandoning PASOK will now either seek to return immediately back to PASOK or remain hidden and politically inept within the Greek parliament either as independent units or part of other parliamentary alliances, until their party becomes fully absorbed by the remaining reformist political forces.
Whether completely conscious, or partially, or even completely unconscious, the decision to shut down ERT within a few hours, had the absolute best results such an act could bring for the conservative head of the government (New Democracy), not just in the further consolidation of its political/parliamentary power but also in that it stroke another blow towards organized labour. It wasn’t just that within a few hours a public institution ceased to exist throwing into instant unemployment more than two and a half thousand workers, but also, that on the account of a ministerial decision one of the strongest public trade unions suddenly disappeared. Indeed, the act of reshaping the state by the political representatives of the Greek and European bourgeoisie entails the crushing of every organized labor institution not just to allow capital to enter and capture services operated by the state, through the means of privatization, but also to establish a premise to allow capital to perform even more brutally within the private sector. In the face of this attack the leaders of ADEDY (Greek federation of public workers) and GSEE (Greek federation of private workers), once again, stood silent, still and powerless.
Shaking the opposition
Yet, arguably what was the best result for New Democracy, was the manner in which the leadership of SYRIZA dealt with the situation. With New Democracy’s conference around the corner and SYRIZA’s first conference fast approaching the shutting down of ERT was also a means to shake the political scenery in order to test the political ground in general, but more importantly to test, and if possible expose the weakness of the opposition. Inexperienced, naïve and eager to make political gains, the leadership of SYRIZA acted in the precise manner the government wished for by choosing to take the fight where the party is profoundly weaker. Consequently, when the party’s political power exists solely in its presence within parliament and its ability to make a political stance within it, the leadership decided to show the party’s force outside parliament. The rally SYRIZA organized to take place at Constitutional Square a few days after the shutting of ERT, had the most disastrous effect by exposing the lack of political depth SYRIZA enjoys within the organized and unorganized parts of the working class, and in society in general, by managing to gather a disappointing number of people. On the one hand SYRIZA’s leadership mistakenly assumed the automatic translation of electoral votes to potential political support in the streets, and on the other, in their enthusiasm and hastiness to present the party as a political movement; they achieved to expose its true nature in being nothing but a petty bourgeois parliamentary alliance. In making this political miscalculation SYRIZA will now be forced to politically barricade itself within parliament to avoid any further embarrassment.
Like DIMAR it proposes to be something it cannot be and like DIMAR its usefulness for bourgeois democracy will soon come to an end. While the leadership’s effort has been to consolidate internal political power by demonstrating its external social appeal, SYRIZA’s conference will now become the starting point of an internal conflict amongst the opportunist and sectarian factions that formulate it. The more it hides inside parliament the stronger internal adventurism and sectarianism will push to be organizationally free; and the more sectarianism gains ground internally the more opportunist the leadership will become in their effort to seek quickly another electoral result that may boost its legitimacy.
Through this the political culture of neoliberalism stands victorious and more strengthened than ever. Despite the loss of parliamentary support with DIMAR’s disassociation New Democracy stands at its peak of its political strength having so far undermined every possible opposition, parliamentary and non, to have stood against its project. Ironically however it is precisely this process that can enable the working class to become once more politically engaged.
Have your friends close and your enemies even closer
And so, it is with arms extended and with friendly shouts, New Democracy is welcoming PASOK in this new formation of government. So far PASOK has avoided becoming directly active in the coalition by not occupying any governmental positions in the way DIMAR did. In that way it distanced itself from holding any executive responsibility for any actions the government undertook during the period of the three way coalition. Yet as a reward for its persistence and loyalty, PASOK’s leadership is now presented with the gift of becoming an active partner in the new two party coalition, by assuming a large number of ministerial as well as other minor governmental posts. Driven by their own political ambitions and by the belief of their importance as a political entity, in securing stability for bourgeois democracy and saving society from the horrors of class struggle, PASOK’s leadership will follow the same path DIMAR took only a year ago. In assuming executive responsibility as well as political, as New Democracy will turn its attention elsewhere in the labour movement (it is not an accident that one of the public unions yet to be touched is the one of the state electricity company, still strong in PASOK and perhaps the strongest of the public unions) PASOK will also start becoming politically consumed by the ongoing neoliberal project. Unlike the present experience of DIMAR, when PASOK’s leadership in a similar clumsy manner, decide to finally disassociate itself from the neoliberal project, such an action would result to general elections; and because of its uncertain electoral future PASOK’s leadership won’t persue such an action until it has depleted all its political energy and alliances with organized and unorganized labor, as well as with the lower spheres of the middle class. And so, through that development, the liquidation of the Greek reformist political forces would have come to its zenith opening the way for a majority conservative government.
And yet, as it is the case throughout capital’s history, the victory of the political forces that represent its existence when in motion to aggressively protect it, inevitably establish the foundations upon which the working class can redefine itself politically and as a class; a development that will take place through capital’s need to smash the bureaucratic barriers the petty bourgeois have erected in and amongst the working class’ political and economic organs, which were so far upholding a social contract between the working class and the capitalists. This time this process will engulf the whole of Europe and as always the destiny of this redefinition will be depended on the position Marxism will have in the process as well as its revolutionary orientation.